Not Just for Products: Certification Helps Raise the Bar, Reduce Risk

By Helen Sanders

If durability is critical to achieve sustainability, what can be done to maximize the lifetime of installed fenestration? The durability performance of fenestration depends on a number of factors: the quality of the design of the window and insulating glass (IG) edge seal, the quality of their fabrication (workmanship), and the quality of their installation.

Past performance often is used by design and construction teams as an indication of quality, but this only can be relied upon if there are processes in place to replicate past performance. Warranties also often are used in the assessment of quality, though this
should be done with caution. For example, product warranties may not offer enough risk management for owners or installers, because they generally include only product replacement and not the cost of replacement labor.

The “Magic” of Certification

Certification by an independent third party offers companies a way of creating and communicating a level of confidence in a product or service that they offer to their customers. David Stutzman, an expert in architectural specification, describes the “magic” of certification in a 2018 article¹, stating that it provides “a uniform measure of
an accepted standard to demonstrate qualifications and the ability to reduce risk.”

Not Just for Products

Certifications can exist for people and companies, too. The North American Contractors Certification (NACC) program for architectural glass and metal contractors focuses
on assessing and certifying business practices, quality, competency and safety in installation.

A program for certifying individual installers, the Architectural Glass and
Metal Technician certification, is also in development.

IG Certification

On the product side, IG certification has been in place for many years, and programs have proliferated since the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) required IG certification to receive an NFRC label. When looking for a certified IG product, it is important to evaluate the certification program itself. Because there are no standards
for IG certification programs to follow, each program has a different level of stringency. All use ASTM E2190 Standard Specification for Insulating Glass Unit Performance and Evaluation as the industry durability benchmark, but how they certify to that standard can differ significantly. Look for programs that require test units to be built on the fabricator’s
production line and in the presence of an auditor. In addition, look for programs that require a passing E2190 report before certification is granted.

Overall, certification helps raise the quality bar and also supports the construction of high-quality, long-lasting building envelopes.

1 D. Stutzman, The Magic of Certification—Solving the Qualifications Dilemma, published and presented at GlassCon Global, Chicago, 2018.

Helen Sanders is in strategic business development for Technoform North America Inc. in Twinsburg, Ohio. Read her blog each month at usglassmag.com/insights.

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